How to Write Your First Resume

Let’s start with what a resume is (and is not), then follow the guidelines below to write your first one-page professional resume.

A resume is… A resume is not
  • A marketing tool unique to your experience
  • A showcase of your education, experiences, and top skills
  • A story of your achievements and things you are proud of
  • A document that can help you get an interview
  • A document that looks the same for everyone
  • An account of everything you’ve ever done
  • A document that only shows duties and tasks
  • A document that gets you a job

Brainstorm All Your Experiences

Before you jump right into filling out a template, take a moment to brainstorm all of your experiences to make sure you don’t leave anything out just because the template you chose didn’t designate a space for it. You can include…

  • Experience: Paid or unpaid jobs, internships, research experience, volunteering, community service
  • Education: Your current degree program, high school diploma (only if <1 year out of high school), transfer coursework, dual credit, study abroad, honors, awards, scholarships, certifications, conferences, presentations
  • Activities: Clubs, sports, community groups, church involvement, leadership experience
  • Projects: Academic projects, personal projects, publications, professional development and self-paced courses

When you’re writing your first resume, focus on what to include versus what to leave out–you can make those editing decisions later.

Resume Pro Tip:

Keep this list of experiences to create a “running resume”. This is a version of your resume that includes everything you’ve ever done. As you gain more experience and the document becomes longer than one page, you can use it as a tool to copy and paste from to create more tailored versions of your resume while still keeping track of all your experiences in one place.

Start with a New Document or Use an SECD Template

Open a new Word or Google document or download one of our 1st Year Student Resumes or Resume Examples with Some College Experience to find a template to start with.

Review your list of experiences and try to group similar experiences together to see how you might organize your document into sections.  You should use your experiences to determine these sections and determine a heading title that best describes them rather than forcing your experience to fit predetermined headings from a template. Remember, this is a document that’s completely unique to you!

Read More: List of Example Section Headings

Write About Your Experience Using APR Format

Effective resumes use accomplishment driven bullet points to demonstrate your skills through your actions. To accomplish this, write your bullet points using APR format:

Action + Project/Problem + Result

Try these steps to write your first bullet point:

  1. Think of one project you completed, a problem you helped solve, or a task assigned to you
  2. Choose a verb that best describes the actions you took
  3. Add in details that describe the project/problem
  4. Include the result you achieved (add in numbers if possible!)

Read more: Write Impressive Bullet Points Using APR Format

Apply a Consistent Format

Whatever format you choose, make sure it’s consistent. Formatting should help organize the document to make it easy to read and make efficient use of the space on the page. You should use color, bolding, italics, or underlining strategically to highlight relevant information and use that formatting consistently throughout each section of your document.

Read more: Resume Formatting Do’s & Don’ts

Revise & Get Feedback

Once you have a good first draft of your document, you’re ready to get feedback, make edits, and upload to your Handshake profile. Here’s a few ways to make revisions to your document to get to your final draft:

Upload to Your Handshake Profile

In Handshake, the job search is a two-way street. You’re 5x’s more likely to be messaged by employers when you upload your resume and make it visible on your profile! View the instructions for how to upload your document to Handshake to upload the latest version of your resume and allow employers to find you when they’re looking to hire Wildcats.